Namibia: Part Two

There is only one way to reach the town of Luderitz by car. It is a 125 km drive west from the nearest town of Aus, and for the entire length of that drive, there is virtually nothing but sand as far as the eye can see.


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Golden Gate Highlands and the Drakensberg Mountains

Driving into the gates of Golden Gate Highlands National Park, visitors are greeted by towering sandstone sentinels, standing guard over the waving golden grasses of the plains below. The park, situated in the Free State and butting up against the border with Lesotho, runs through a valley surrounded on both sides by giant, waving cliff faces, painted in hues of yellow, purple, gold and gray by years of erosion and exposure. The landscape is unexpected and breathtaking, and easily one of the most beautiful places I have seen on this earth.


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Cradle of Humankind

Just a short drive outside of Johannesburg, unassuming tracts of farmland and rolling hills hide the scientific garden of eden.  Here, an area of just 180-square miles has produced some of the oldest hominid fossils ever found. More than 40% of human ancestor fossils found in the world have been unearthed here, and they have provided vital clues in piecing together the story of where humans came from. It was from this sites that science was able to determine that all of humanity came to be in Africa. The scientific discoveries made here, some as old as 3.5 million years, and the discoveries that continue to be made in the area, are why Cradle of Humankind is included as part of one of South Africa’s eight UNESCO world heritage sites.


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Vredefort Dome: A Johnson Family Adventure



Growing up, my family had a tendency to get into exciting situations on our travels. We would find ourselves in scenarios that we really shouldn’t have been in, with no clear escape route. Like during a family vacation to South Africa almost 20 years ago, when we managed to get lost, at night, deep in a township. Or later on the same trip, when we parked our safari car a little too close to an angry African elephant, causing him to uproot a tree and come after us with it full force.

My parents always did a pretty good job of downplaying the true extent of the physical danger we faced until after the fact, by which time the euphemistically named “Hoffman Family Adventures” had become the stuff of family legend.

This knack for getting into perilous situations (adventures!) has clearly been passed down to me, because Spencer and I walked right into our own “Johnson Family Adventure” this weekend.

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A Little More London


IMG_4164For my last day in London, I got to play the role of directionally challenged tour guide to my cousin Josh. He is studying abroad in Estonia for a year, and has an excellent habit  of meeting up with family wherever they happen to be in the world. I was looking forward to his visit, because any time spent with Josh is guaranteed to be interesting.

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February Flowers at Kew Gardens



IMG_3940 (1).jpgSometimes when traveling I make silly decisions. Like the other week, when I had a day on my own in London and decided to visit Kew Royal Botanical Gardens. I had heard wonderful things about the gardens, and they are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. But I forgot to account for the fact that it was February, not a time for flower viewing. Plus it was freezing outside, and the gardens are, as I should have suspected, mostly outdoors. Continue reading “February Flowers at Kew Gardens”

Maritime and Mean Time in Greenwich



On my second day in London, I met up with good friend to check out Greenwich.  The village of Greenwich is on the south bank of the Thames, just a short train journey from the city center, but it feels like a world apart.  It is known for it’s rich maritime history, as well as being the home of the Prime Meridian, and is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

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London, the Heroic City

London has always been one of my favorite cities.  It has such a unique energy, and it always strikes my imagination in a special way when I am here. It is so culturally rich, so diverse, and always exciting.  The city, built over and again on the remains of its previous self across two millennia, teems with history.  I get the sense that Roman London, Medieval London, Victorian London, and Wartime London were all alive with this same vibrancy.

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